When a baby dies
There is never an easy way to approach a subject which is as deeply personal and intense as the loss of a pregnancy, stillbirth or the death of an infant. However, steady progress is being made and the silence surrounding infant loss is clearly breaking. There are many more resources, organisations and charities available today than there were just a few years ago. Education has served to decrease the incidence of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and preventative maternity care is helping to reduce the risks of loss during pregnancy. Nonetheless, “the death of a baby is not a rare tragedy: around fifteen babies died before, during or after birth every day in the UK in 2015” (sands.org.uk).
At such an emotionally bewildering time, it is easy to see why families often opt to use the funeral services offered by their hospital. Indeed, for many, this is exactly what they need. However, for some, the need to mark the life, and loss, of their child with something more personal is important for several reasons, not least as a passage for their grief.
We recognise that planning a funeral for a baby or child requires specialist care and Dandelion Dreams has been established to provide dedicated support to families in their time of need.
Ellen and Jack, parents of Oscar who was born sleeping at 32 weeks after a diagnosis of Trisomy 13, have asked us to share their account of planning a funeral for their son below, in the hope that other parents will feel empowered to make the choices that best suit them at this difficult time.
Being guided through the process of creating a perfect service for our son has meant more to us than we could have imagined.
Having Jo, from Dandelion Dreams, at the end of the phone enabled us to discuss any thoughts, ideas and feelings we had, directly and confidently with someone who completely understood what we wanted so that we didn’t have to explain things several times to numerous professionals.
We were supported to make our son's funeral personal and purposeful without being pressured into conforming to 'normal' services, and we were made to feel comfortable with our own feelings and wishes.
Being able to meet, and make the arrangements, within our own home was unbelievably helpful; not only from a physical point of view (having just given birth) but also emotionally as we didn't have to go to an unfamiliar place to discuss our plans.
Dandelion Dreams led a completely transparent service and this helped us feel in full control.
We were able to see our son when we wanted within a relaxed atmosphere in a non clinical setting which helped us feel more like a normal family. We were also able to invite people to visit and it gave us invaluable, extra time to share with our son.
It was important to us that our son's service was held within a certain time frame and Jo was able to support us to ensure that was met.
I would strongly recommend this type of service to anyone in a similar situation.
It simply empowered us to make our own choices and feel in full control of the last thing we could do for our son.